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Originally published November 17, 2011 at 8:17 PM | Page modified November 18, 2011 at 8:05 AM

Cain snub of paper carries risks

Herman Cain may have picked a powerful enemy in New Hampshire on Thursday, skipping a scheduled interview with the Union Leader newspaper during a brief visit to the state.

Tribune Washington bureau

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WASHINGTON — Herman Cain may have picked a powerful enemy in New Hampshire on Thursday, skipping a scheduled interview with the Union Leader newspaper during a brief visit to the state.

The cancellation came only days after Cain struggled mightily with a question about Libya during a videotaped interview with reporters and editors from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Cain was attempting to make good Thursday on a number of fronts. He started the day with a trip to the New Hampshire secretary of state's office.

Unlike most other major GOP hopefuls, he had filed his declaration of candidacy by mail and not in person. More than two weeks after the filing period closed, he showed up and signed a notice-of-elections poster that already bore many rivals' signatures.

From there, he was to head to Manchester for a scheduled meeting with the Union Leader publisher, its editorial editor and a reporter. According to Drew Cline, the editorial editor, the meeting was arranged last week, and confirmed again days ago.

After the Journal Sentinel interview was released, Cain's campaign contacted the Union Leader to say the candidate would not allow C-SPAN cameras to be present for the session, as they had been for meetings with other candidates.

The campaign then contacted the paper to say that, rather than the hourlong interview they had agreed to, Cain would be available for only 20 minutes. Cline said Cain's campaign was told that it was "not worth our time to do it for 20 minutes." The campaign promised to get back to them, but never did.

"We thought they were coming. I don't know what happened," Cline said, chalking it up to a "communications failure on their end."

The Union Leader has unique status in New Hampshire every four years. Its endorsement is a coveted one and can prove significant. The paper backed John McCain in 2008 and published several front-page editorials alternately praising the Arizona senator and blasting Mitt Romney, an early front-runner.

The Union Leader did interview Cain earlier this year, Cline said, but it was "more of a get-to-know-you kind of thing."

"It's not unusual at all that we do multiple sit-downs with a presidential candidate during a primary cycle," Cline said. "From the campaign's standpoint, if you've got a media outlet that reaches statewide, why wouldn't you want to come in?"

Cain's campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but he reportedly put the blame on the newspaper.

"You aren't gonna believe it, but they canceled," he told reporters.

Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid said he "was not concerned."

"I don't think he's going anywhere from here at this point, anyway," he said.

Also

Cain on Thursday became the first Republican presidential candidate to receive Secret Service protection. He asked for the security and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and congressional leaders approved his request, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed. Cain has received unspecified threats, according to an official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the situation.

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